About this blog

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 11, 2010. As a result of my treatment, I have lymphedema in my left arm. I draw my strength from the Lord, as well as my family's Scots-Irish heritage. Our Graham's were a tough and scrappy bunch of fighters on the Scottish/English border. They came to America and continued to fight when necessary: in the American Revolution; the Civil War; and my brother is a Captain in the U.S. Army. My ancestors settled this country against all odds. My great-grandmothers on both sides of the family were pioneer women who settled the West. Along with that heritage, and the full armor of God, I am walking the walk and fighting the good fight.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


I'm running in my first race this weekend.  The Carlsbad 5000, promoted as "the worlds fastest 5k." Well, the race may be, but I may not be.

I've never run in a race before. In fact, I always despised running since Alvarado Junior High when we had the dreaded, "running day" each week in PE.  I had my periods of being in pretty good physical shape, even if I was overweight. But it was never because of running. It just wasn't my thing. Besides, being "well endowed" gave me a handy excuse. It was way too uncomfortable!

I started running a little bit about a year ago, even before my breast cancer diagnosis. I had lost 50 pounds, and gone down two bra cup sizes to a B. I decided to run a little at the gym on the treadmill.  I gave it a shot, and was able to do it.  Maybe not for long, but I was able to join the ranks of the "runners" at the gym for a few minutes.  I would start out by walking 5 minutes, running 10, walking 5, running 10 for about an hour. It felt good to be able to do something that I had only envisoned people in really good shape being able to do. I was slowly joining their club! Jillian's admonishment echoed in my mind, "You have no idea how strong you are and what you can do until you try it." I was doing it!

Then I was put into a club that I never aspired to be in.  The pink ribbon club. Surgery set me back in my exercise.  I lost some definition and strength in my upper body. I managed to keep my cardio going, even if it was the recumbent stationary bike. I had to be careful not to be too "bouncy" with anything while I was healing from surgery. But I slowly made it to the elliptical, then the stairmaster, and ultimately back to the treadmill.  Working out throughout my treatment made me feel stronger and gave me more energy.

Now I consider exercise ongoing treatment. It's not an option for me anymore. It is something I need to do if I want to do all I can to cut down the risk of recurrence.

I wanted to run in the Carlsbad 5000 last year, but I was too chicken. But this year, I'm going for it. I'm not in it to "win it."  I just don't want to embarass myself!  I'd like to run the whole thing and get a decent time.

I don't know much of anything about training for something like this. Besides, its not like a marathon...it's only 3.1 miles. I started out by just seeing if I could run 5k on the treadmill without stopping. My first attempt in mid-January was successful. It took me 38 minutes, 34 seconds.  I've been peeling seconds off of that time ever since.  My ultimate goal is to run a 5k in under 30 minutes. I came close today-30 minutes, 22 seconds.  I ran a 10 minute mile most of the time, and then upped it for the last 1/2 mile. It was tough!

I haven't only been doing flat treadmill runs. I've also been running a little bit outdoors. That is probably the most helpful because of the natural terrain and elevation changes, but its hard because of the kids. At least at the gym, Jean-Marc can go into the "Kids Club." I've also been cross training on the elliptical and stair master, as well as switching up the treadmill to do intervals and hills.

I also am doing something a little extra, just for fun.  Jillian Michaels has a new DVD out, "Ripped in 30." It is similar to her "30 Day Shred" program. It's a half an hour workout with 3 circuits. In each circuit is 3 minutes of strength training, 2 minutes of cardio, and 1 minute of abs. There are 4 levels of workouts. The idea is to progress each week to the next level. I decided to give it a shot 6 days a week, on top of whatever other workouts I'm doing. I figured it might be a good way to get back some of the strengh in my upper body. Besides, I do want to drop at least another 10 pounds. Adding some extra physical activity should help with that.  We'll see if I can get "ripped in 30."

I have 2 more days before the big day. I plan on doing the Jillian workout at some point each day. I'm on week 2. Tomorrow, I want to do some cross training on the Stair master and bike as well.  I'm going to take most of Saturday off, with the exception of the Jillian DVD in the morning.  If it wasn't for my little goal of dong the "ripped" series, I'd take the whole day off. But 30 minutes in the morning isn't going to kill me.

I have to be there pretty early on Sunday morning to check in. I plan on having my green smoothie ready to go the night before so I can just drink it as soon as I'm up.  I'll take a banana with me and eat it about 30 minutes before we take off.

One thing I'm a little concerned about is my shoes. I got these shoes last July, right before my surgery. They are definitely falling apart. But I don't want to get new ones before the race. So I'm hoping they hang in there and protect me feet and legs a little bit longer. Then I'll go down to Road Runner and get a few pairs to break in as we begin to seriously train for the 3-Day.

Prayers and well wishes are welcome. I've never done this before. It is definitely out of my comfort zone. I have no idea what kind of time to expect or hope for. I don't know if it is realistic to compare it to treadmill times, especially since I'll be on the road with hundreds of other people. I just want to go in and have fun. It's one of those things that I never imagined myself doing.  It's one of those things that I thought about doing as I was recovering from surgery. With every step, I will feel like I am kicking cancer's butt!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A big step

Today I took a couple of big steps. At least they were for me.

First, I took a Zumba class for the first time since my surgery last July. I used to love going and doing it. It made me feel like I did when I was a kid and took dance classes. Having taken dance classes for several years, I'm pretty good at picking up coreography. So I caught onto Zumba fairly fast. After I was physically able after surgery, I didn't take classes just because I never wanted to wait in the long line. Women start lining up 45 minutes before the class starts! I just don't want to waste that much time not exercising at the gym.  Today, I was on the ellipitcal, and had done about 25 of my 30 minute program. The Zumba line was pretty short, and there were only 10 minutes left before it was going to start. I was in!  I didn't have as much to shake up on top like I used to, but whatever. It was still fun, and a great way to switch up the workout!

The other step was even bigger.

I went out in public with NO wig, NO hat, NO scarf. Just me and my super short hair. I took the kids to see the new "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" movie. I was a little nervous about doing it. What if I saw someone I knew? Would I be mistaken for a man?  But at some point, I knew I was going to have to just go for it. Some women wear their hair really short on purpose. I put on some earrings, filled in my eyebrows with liner, put some gel in the hair I do have and went out.

It's funny. The kids didn't even notice until I mentioned it afterwards. They are used to seeing me "as is" around the house, so it was no big deal. I felt a little awkward when I thought about it. I felt REALLY awkward as we were leaving the theater and I saw my reflection in the window of my car.  But whatever. It is what it is. In a way, it was kind of liberating not to hide under a hat or head covering. Gray hairs and all!

As it turned out, I did see someone I knew. A friend from church. She has the distinction of being the first to see me "au naturale."  I don't know if she was shocked or not, I know I would be if I were her. I usually wear the wig on Sundays!

I'm not sure when I'll do it again. Probably next week for my 5k for sure. We'll see how I feel each day. Here is how I looked:

Friday, March 25, 2011

A plea to Jet Blue

I heard back from April at the American Cancer Society. She basically said that they took the travel vouchers "as is" and isn't willing to intercede with Jet Blue on my behalf. According to her, hundreds of other vouchers are given to ACS each year and no one else has this problem. Hmm. Really?  I'll admit to being disappointed in ACS for not even giving it a shot. From what I can tell, this person has a national job with the organization and is not one of the people here in San Diego. I'm trying very hard to not let this turn me off of the whole organization.

In any event, I am sending an e-mail to Jet Blue's Southwestern regional marketing director today to plead my case. I don't know what the outcome will be, but want to give Jet Blue an opportunity to come through and be awesome.  If they refuse, I'm not sure what I'll do. Perhaps just chalk it up to the trip not being in God's will. I have friends who suggest I go to the media to expose the situation. I don't know. I'm hoping that this person will have the heart to help us out.

Here is the text of my message to him. Please pray that it is read with favor and that it is effective:

Dear Mr. R,
I am writing to you in the hopes that you can help me with something.  I was the recipient of 4 travel vouchers that Jet Blue donated to the American Cancer Society. (I am a 2010 Pacesetter for their "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer" walk in San Diego this past year.)  I've tried on two separate occasions to redeem them and have been told that the vouchers are "capacity controlled" and cannot be booked for travel on dates that are remotely convenient for my family and I. I am hoping that you would find a way to remove that restriction. Let me tell you why.
In normal circumstances, I would agree that it is my problem. In fact, when I tried to redeem 2 of the vouchers last December and was unable, I gave up on the idea of a holiday trip. After all, it was New Years, and I could understand how flights would be unavailable. I attempted this week to redeem the 4 vouchers so my three children and I could join my husband in Washington D.C. during the last week of June. I am flexible as to exact dates and am even willing to fly from any airport in Southern California. We just need to overlap a few days during that last week of June. But there was nothing until July 2nd.
You see, I was diagnosed with breast cancer last June at the age of 40. My youngest child wasn't even two years old at the time. In the past 9 months, my family has watched me go through my treatments which have included a double mastectomy to remove a 3.5 c.m. tumor from my left breast and 5 cancerous lymph nodes, 6 rounds of chemotherapy, 33 radiation treatments. I also developed an incurable chronic complication from my surgery called lymphedema, which results in my left arm and hand being subject to swelling because the lymph nodes were removed on that side and thus my body cannot circulate lymphatic fluid on its own.  After all we have been through, we could really use a change of scenery. Unfortunately, each time our family's schedule will permit a getaway, Jet Blue doesn't have the flights because of this "capacity control" restriction.  Two of the vouchers expire on July 14th, so there is no way will be able to use them as they are.
I am hoping that you will find it in your heart and power to have this restriction removed so we can take the kids to Washington D.C. for the last week of June. You would have in me (and my family) lifelong and loyal customers of Jet Blue. I have many friends who would also think highly of your company if you could make this happen. You would be helping us fulfill one of my "bucket wish list" items as well.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Tonya Jamois

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


One of the "silver lining" of this cancer experience has been meeting great people at the American Cancer Society. Because of my involvement with their "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer" last fall, I was given 2 round trip tickets anywhere Jet Blue flies (nonstop) at the end of last year. Eric and I tried to book a flight from San Diego to New York City for New Years, but there were no flights available. Bummer! But I figured, it is New Years, and I could see how demand was high.

Well, my luck doubled, because I was put into a drawing for 2 more tickets on Jet Blue. Wouldn't you know it...I won! So now I have 4 round trip tickets on Jet Blue. Wow!  Eric and I looked at the calendar, and he had to be in San Diego for the kids' Spring break. But the last week of June, he had a conference in Washington D.C. I had the bright idea that the kids and I could use the free tickets and go the same week he was there. He could add a few days on either end of his conference and we could see the sights.

It was like God was opening the door for our family to have a fun and educational trip. Considering that our family trip last June was canceled because of my diagnosis, I was really looking forward to this.  An added plus was that his company happened to have reserved an extra room at the same hotel that the conference was at that we could use for the kids.

That was, until I called Jet Blue to book the flights today. I was pretty flexible as to the dates of travel. We just needed to overlap with the dates Eric was there.  I was even flexible as to the airport we flew out of. Anywhere in Southern California would do, all the way up to Burbank.

Well...they have NO FLIGHTS AVAILABLE for the month of June. She could only get us there on July 2nd.  What's the point of these ticket vouchers if you can't book any travel? I even asked if they had the "breast cancer survivor special" and explained how I got the vouchers in the first place. (Those who have read Kris Carr's book, "Crazy, Sexy, Cancer" will recognize my attempt at swiping the "cancer card.")  Denied! She said these vouchers were "capacity controlled." I'm not sure what that means, because I'm trying to book travel 3 months in advance. It seems to me that these vouchers aren't worth the paper they are printed on, and I told her that.  In a nice way, of course. She was nice,and I could tell she wished she could change the situation.

She suggested that I contact the person at the American Cancer Society to see if that person (whose name is April) would contact Jet Blue and have the "capacity control" restriction removed. Then she could book us on pretty much any flight. I've done that, but have yet to hear back.

I know its not a life or death thing, but I would appreciate prayer that April would take my case up with Jet Blue and that Jet Blue would do the right thing and remove the restriction so we could take the kids to Washington D.C. in June. We need this. I need this. It's not the Bahamas or some sandy beach somewhere. But the kids were all jazzed about the museums and monuments.  The history, the educational possibilities....  I was looking forward to seeing a couple of cousins I have in the area, too. All of the other pieces of this trip just seemed to fall into place. But we definitely can't afford to fly the kids and I out there on our own.  So this will definitely need to be kicked up to a higher level. I've done all I can do to make this happen.

I now need God's intervention, so I figured I would enlist my faithful prayer warriors. Thank you!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Another good week

At the end of the work week is time for me to face reality.  Forget how I feel or how I may think things are. It's time for the verdicts from independent sources. On Thursdays, I measure my hand, wrist and arm to see how my lymphedema is doing. On Fridays, I step on the scale for my weekly weigh-in.  I'll admit that it does give me a little bit of butterflies. But its important to me to catch things before they get out of control.

Since today is Thursday, I asked Eric to help me with the arm measurements. I'm very happy to report that there is no significant change in my measurements from last week. Thank the Lord!  I have scaled back a little on my lymphedema regimen. I'm only doing the manual massage at night, and I'm not always wearing my compression garments. It feels good to have my arm and hand bare, especially on sunny days. I'm thrilled that this little bit of respite did not result in swelling. I still massage and bandage at night, though.

We'll see what the scale says tomorrow. Last week, I was down 2 pounds. I'd like to lose 10-15 more to get to my ideal weight. Maintaining an ideal weight is important not only for preventing a recurrence of cancer, but also for lymphedema. My physical therapist told me she had at least one client whose lymphedema problem would probably go away (or at least be greatly relieved) simply by losing weight.

I'm approaching this weight loss differently than I did last year when I lost 50 pounds.  Last time, I religiously counted calories in (eating) and calories out (exercise). I tried to keep the intake between 1,200-1,400 calories a day and burn 500 through exercise. It works!  I could do that again, but I'm trying something new. I've been focusing more on eating whole, organic foods, mostly plant based. I'll have a little bit of meat, but honestly I don't miss it. The only reason I make it is because of the rest of the family. It's hard to count the calories in a green smoothie! It is a lot of volume, but veggies are pretty low in calories. Its a new eating style that I'm working on, not a diet. I'm also trying to limit sugar. Sugar feeds cancer. But that is really hard, especially at night. Especially when your French in laws literally send pounds of delicious French chocolate to your house. I'll admit that I probably have had a few more of those than I should this week! Hopefully the excellent plant based food I eat for the rest of the day will allow for a little bit of indulgence.

One thing that I'm doing the same is exercising. Although, even in that area, I'm doing it a bit different out of necessity. Last time, I did Jillian Michael's circuit training workouts from her website 4 times a week and did cardio alone once a week. I'd do extra little power walks with the dog too. I'm a little hesitant about going back into circuits full time. Weight training is okay with lymphedema, but you have to be careful and work your way there. I'll do a circuit workout once a week or so and see what happens. I mostly do cardio with a lot of abs and lower body exercises (lunges, squats, etc.)  I'm not sure if I mentioned it here, but I entered my first race! On April 3rd, I'm going to run in the Carlsbad 5000. It's a 5k. I've never run in a race, so I'm a little nervous about it. I know I can run the whole time, its just getting out there and doing it! After the race, I'll focus more on long distance walking.

So today's measurements were good. We'll see how the scale treats me tomorrow after my chocolate-fest this week!  Maybe I need prayer for some willpower!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hair update

It has been over 3 months since my last round of chemotherapy.

My hair is growing back. It still is too short to wear on its own. But it definitely is there.  It looks like a dark/grey fuzzy cap on my head. I can't tell if it is going to curl or not. Many cancer survivors experience their hair coming back with a different texture than it was before.  A "chemo curl" is what they call it. My hair before was straight and fine. When I was younger, it was pretty thick.  Starting after I gave birth to Isabelle, my hair started to thin out. At that time, it was breaking. After Jean-Marc, it started coming out from the root.  The amount of hair loss was freaky. I should have known something was up. I chalked it up to post-pregnancy hormones. As it turned out, it WAS hormones, and not good ones. Estrogen is not my friend. It makes my cancer grow.

Jennifer Griffin
Anyway, I do look forward to the time when I can just wear it as it is and not feel weird about it. Just spike it all up like Jennifer Griffen or Carly Fiorina during the California senatorial primary season. Actually, this photo of Jennifer isn't too far off of what mine looks like right now. It is a bit longer than mine.   I find myself constantly rubbing my head, a lot like I did during the falling out process. Its not something I think about, I just find myself doing it a lot.

There is definitely a lot of gray in there. I'm not sure if I'm going to do anything about that down the line. Before cancer, I colored my hair.  Now that I'm trying to detoxify my environment, I don't know how to cover the gray that doesn't expose me to chemicals and junk I'm trying to avoid.  We'll see how it looks longer. My midwife had gray hair and it did not make her look old at all. Maybe it will be similar for me?

I'm not wearing head scarves as much anymore. I'm finding hats are a good middle ground. I have a shadow of hair along my temple and in the back. When I was bald, it was strange to wear a hat because there was no hairline.  I still wear my wig a few times a week. I surprised a few fourth graders last week when I chaperoned their field trip with a full head of hair!  Their initial reactions reminded me of my five year old nephew's observation a couple weeks before.  I had worn a headscarf on Saturday and my wig on Sunday. On Sunday, he asked me incredulously, "How did your hair grow so fast?"

As for hair in other places, it is also coming back. I didn't actually lose all of my body hair. It thinned out on my arms and my eyebrows, but I didn't completely lose it.  It makes me wonder if I hadn't taken an electric razor to my head, if I would have completely lost it.  I had enough left on my eyebrows to give me some guidance on filling them in with brow liner.  I had purchased some templates before chemo, and never ended up using them.  I still fill them in, but need to give them a good wax underneath.  My eyelashes actually got thinner after chemo ended. I tried putting on some mascara and it is just ridiculous. Especially on the bottom-there are just a few millimeters of lash there. As for my legs, now THAT was a silver lining to the whole cancer thing. To have smooth legs for several months and not having to shave was great! I'm fortunate in that the hair on my legs is blond and fine, so even hairy, they don't look that bad. But that is coming back now too. I even got out the old razor and gave them a swipe a week or so ago.

You know, it wasn't so bad shaving my legs after all this time!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Happy feet

The pedicure felt great! I walked into the salon and a friend was there getting a manicure and pedicure as well. Her boys are the same age as Olivier. Now that they are at the middle school, we rarely see each other.  The elementary school was much more conducive to chit chatting parents! Anyway, it was fun to catch up and chat.

My shins were a little sore, so the massage felt great.  I went in there and asked for it all! A scrub/masque on my feet and legs? Yes!   Paraffin dip? YES! Flower? Yes!

And I didn't even smudge them getting into the car!

Lymphedema tracking

I'm still being vigilant about tracking the measurements of my arm and hand. I haven't seen my physical therapist for 2 weeks. My last day with her was the last day of radiation. At that time, she cautioned me to keep bandaging, massaging and wearing my compression sleeve while I was healing from radiation. She suggested a follow up appointment in a month.

I've been on my own for a few weeks. I knew what my measurements were on February 17th, my last day of radiation. I also knew what my "best" measurements were since I had been since my lymphedema was triggered. I came home and made a spreadsheet. Every Thursday, Eric helps me measure my hand, wrist, and arm at 5 centimeter intervals. I record them on the spreadsheet and then compare where I am, and where I should be.

I'm thrilled today because all of my measurements were where they should be. In fact, at six points, I beat my "best" measurement! Thank you Jesus!

What am I doing to keep it in control? I've been bandaging every night and wearing the finger to armpit bandages for at least 9 hours every 24 hour period. Frankly, that is getting old. It takes me at least 30 minutes every night to deal with my arm, between the massage and bandaging. I do 2 sessions of manual lymphatic drainage. I've gotten in tune with my body to the point where I can feel the lymph moving in my hand and arm when I do the massage. I also wear my compression sleeve and gauntlet for most of the day, and always wear it while exercising.

Today is a sunny day. I'm wearing a tank top, so I'm going to leave the compression off for the afternoon when I go pick up Isabelle from school. Bring on the Vitamin D!

To be honest, I'm afraid to stop bandaging at night. I would hate to wake up and be swollen up. But with measurements like this, I may be able to ease off on the compression garments during the day.  We'll see. I keep an eye on it and if it gets worse, I'm back in compression. That's my life now.

I'm going to celebrate this afternoon by getting my first pedicure in months. With chemo, I was advised not to get pedicures because of the risk of infection.  Plus, I lost a toenail from the taxotere. It has grown back a little bit, so I'm not that embarrassed by it anymore. I'm going to get the full-on European spa pedicure with all the bells an whistles!  Yay!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Doing what I can do

I just finished reading a new book, "Crazy Sexy Diet." It's by Kris Carr, a woman who also wrote a book called "Crazy Sexy Cancer" along with a documentary of the same name. She has a website, Crazy Sexy Life, that has some interesting stuff on it.

Kris calls herself and those who follow her plan "wellness warriors." Sounds good to me.

Her recommendations go along with a lot of what I have already learned about nutrition and fighting disease. Kris is big into juicing and smoothies. Her approach is vegan, although she doesn't say you have to be. I've slowly been cutting back on meat products over the past year or so. I try to think of meat as a side dish rather than the main course. She also has eliminated dairy. That is hard for me to give up completely. I like yogurt and cheese.  When I do have meat or dairy, I make sure that its organic. At least I feel better on that score.

I'm very interested in raw foods and am probably gravitating towards a vegetarian diet. A friend loaned me her Vitamix and I've been making green smoothies for breakfast every day. I've always liked to get a serving of veggies in the morning. With the smoothies, I'm probably getting at least 5! I don't really follow a recipe-I just throw in stuff I have. This morning it was: 3 leaves of kale; 1/2 cucumber; dandelion greens; mizuna; a whole apple (with seeds); 1/2 pear; 2 oz aloe vera juice; 1/2 lemon juiced; alkalizing drops; a little apple juice and water.  It may sound gross, but its pretty good! It gets a little foamy, which is annoying. But to know you are taking in all of those vitamins, enzymes, and phytochemicals makes it worth it. I just feel healthier. At least I do.

The idea is to create an alkaline environment inside your body. Unfortunately, the typical American diet with a lot of sugar, carbohydrates, processed foods, and meat creates an acidic one. That is something that cancer thrives on. Cancer does not like alkalinity and oxygen.  Kris suggests going 80/20. That is, 80% of your food being veggies, with the other 20% being whole grains, beans, legumes, and other good, whole food. I've found it easy to do if I have a green smoothie at breakfast and then a salad at lunch. That makes 2 raw meals for the day. At night I'll cook some veggies, grains, and make something for the carnivores in the house. I usually will have a small bit of meat, but try to make it 3 ounces or less.  Sugar is something that should be avoided...it feeds cancer. Kris refers to sugar as "crack." An addiction that we must wean ourselves from.  

Along with the continued exercise, it helps me feel like I am doing all I can do to prevent cancer from coming back. I've been learning a lot about "food as medicine," throughout my journey, especially as it relates to cancer. God gave us what we need to be healthy. We just have to get back to the simplicity of it all. Forget the processed food. Cut back on sugar and alcohol. 80% veggies and I'm good to go. There are a lot of good vegetarian recipes online that I keep discovering. Now if I could just get my family to not be so attached to the way things used to be in our house.

I love the Vitamix, but I also would like to get a juicer for when I don't want the heaviness of the fiber. It would give my digestive system a break too. Kris does both. Maybe I'll get one for Mother's Day.

So I'm dabbling in this nutritional world, evolving toward vegetarianism.  Maybe even vegan.  Not out of any kind of love for animals-don't sign me up for PETA or anything.  Don't get me wrong, animals are great.  But that isn't the driving force for me. It's about what is good for my particular body as a cancer warrior. I also feel like I'm playing catch up with my immune system after chemo and radiation. The healing is taking place on the inside. Thank you, Jesus!

My prayer requests:

  • The tickle is STILL here, after 2 solid weeks. I'm still not sleeping all night. 
  • That my body heal from all of the treatment that it has gone through over the past several months.
  • That I be cancer free.
  • That I be able to stick with my resolve concerning my eating habits. Cutting back on sugar, alcohol and meat.  Adding lots of veggies and healthy stuff.  Help me remember why I am doing this! (I sometimes lecture myself, "sugar feeds cancer...sugar feeds cancer...."). 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Just plain tired!

Okay.  Reader beware. Whine-fest coming on....

The tickle was cute at first. Something different. But I'm way over it now. It has been 2 weeks since I've had a solid night of sleep.  I'm even missing the night hot flashes! What's up with that??!

Yesterday, I bought an over the counter medication for coughing. I've pretty much gone through a whole bottle of Ny-Quil. So I thought I'd try something more targeted. Forget it!  This new medicine made it more difficult for me to fall asleep. When I did, I was halfway conscious, so it didn't even feel like sleep. To make it worse, I woke up several times during the night to....COUGH! So much for that.  I think tonight I'll go without taking anything.

I'm tempted to take an Ativan.  I still have some left over from my chemotherapy. I took it in the day before, day of and day after chemo, to counteract the steroid (dexamethasone) that I took. It really knocked me out. I would really benefit from a solid night of sleep. I just hate the thought of it being chemically induced.

I may be also experiencing some caffeine withdrawal. I went "off" coffee long ago. Even before my cancer diagnosis. I love the smell of coffee. But I didn't like the calories that cream added. So I switched to green tea over a year ago. For the past few days, I've been blending my own green smoothies in the morning. That doesn't leave much room for green tea.  This morning I couldn't do more than a few sips of the tea. So perhaps that is making me feel worse. But even at that, I only would have 1-2 cups a day, so its not like I'm a big caffeine junkie.

A friend suggested today maybe it is allergies. That's an idea. I do have some left over Claritin from my hive outbreak. I'd really like to avoid another trip to Kaiser. Jeez...I'm so over going to see doctors!

By the way, I went to see my radiation oncologist last Thursday. He thinks my skin looks great and wants to see me in another month. Okay, doc. If you say so. It is healing up, and I even wore my foobies today for the first time in several weeks.

But what I would really like is to just have 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The tickle

Wouldn't you know it? I make it through six rounds of chemo, over 6 weeks of radiation without any secondary health issues. Sure, I had the typical side effects. But I didn't catch any colds are flus the whole time. Now I'm going on a week of an annoying cough and cold. It isn't quite in my lungs, but manifests itself as an irritating tickle in the back of my throat.  Some in my family have dubbed it the "Osgood tickle." It doesn't keep me from functioning, but it does make me feel like my head is a little bit in a fog. The worst part is that it keeps me up at night. I cough and cough, but nothing gets rid of it at times. My burns are healing to the point where there is not a lot of pain anymore. It's just the skin that keeps falling off as it dies. I may even try wearing my foobies for the first time in weeks. We'll see.

Life has been pretty busy. Eric has been travelling on business for the past couple of weeks. It really helps having another adult around to share the kid duties with. Being the only one to make sure the dog gets walked, kids get to school and their activities, fed, etc., is hard. Adding less sleep and less than optimal health on top of it, and it has been a challenging week.  On the plus side, my sister and her kids are visiting from New Mexico. It has been fun to meet my new niece, Kate, as well as hang out with my nephews. It's great to see all of the cousins play together!

I'm trying to keep up with my workouts, despite it all.  On Monday, I went to the gym with my mom and sister.  It was fun to work out with her.  We pushed each other a bit on the treadmill, which was great. I took the day off yesterday, since I was busy all morning at bible study. Today, I was back at it with a Jillian DVD, Banish Fat Boost Metabolism. I don't know if I'll make it to the gym tomorrow. Jean-Marc has come down with a cold as well, and I can't really put him into the babysitting room with a runny nose. I'll figure something out to do at home, I suppose.

On the nutrition side, I've been trying to incorporate more vegetables into my diet. I'm not going vegetarian, but I am trying to think of meat as a small side dish, rather than the main course. I also am trying to have more of my veggies raw. I want to get into making my own smoothies and juices. I've been spending $12 a week at the farmer's market for these great green smoothies.  Even the kids will drink them. But I'd love to make my own. I'm investigating buying either a supercharged blender or a juicer. I joined a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) last month. Every Wednesday, I pick up a box of fresh, organic, locally grown produce. It usually has a lot of greens: 2 kinds of lettuce; kale; collard greens; and other greens I've never tried. On Monday, I had a mystery green left over that I knew I'd never finish eating it as a salad green by today. I tried making my own green smoothie by putting it in a blender, along with some parsley, apple and lime juice. It wasn't too bad! But my poor, cheap Hamilton Beach blender really had a hard time doing it. I definitely need to upgrade!

Mom and I have been getting excited about the 3-Day. It is daunting on so many levels. The physical challenge of it all is one.  We definitely are going to have to go on some training walks where we get used to walking so long. They suggest a 20 minute mile. I tried it on a treadmill, and it seems very slow. But I need to keep in mind I'll be doing that for about 6 hours for 3 days in a row! It's a marathon, not a sprint. We are going to participate in several training walks that the 3-Day will sponsor in our area as the big weekend approaches. It will be nice to connect with other 3-Day walkers, too!

We also are trying to figure out how to raise the money. I'm so proud of my mom!  She went to the general manager of the 24 Hour Fitness where we work out and asked him to have the club sponsor us! He didn't say they would, but he didn't turn her down, either.  We are planning a couple of fundraising events as well. Hopefully, we can enjoy the fundraising process as well. It never is easy asking for money, especially when the economy is what it has been.  I won't make another pitch here, but I will keep the little "donation" widget on this page so if you feel so moved, you can help us out.